By Nat Ives
Facebook Inc.'s sprawling reach among consumers and its powerful
ad targeting abilities have made it a seeming must-buy for many
Its Facebook and Instagram platforms are likely to collect 23.4%
of U.S. digital ad revenue this year, second only to Alphabet
Inc.'s Google and far ahead of its next closest rival, Amazon.com
Inc., according to research firm eMarketer.
But a growing list of companies are pausing their advertising
with Facebook for July or longer, responding to civil-rights
groups' call for a boycott over what they say is a lack of progress
in preventing hate speech and misinformation.
Facebook on Friday said it would start labeling political speech
that violated its rules and take other measures to prevent voter
suppression and protect minorities from abuse.
That didn't stop more companies from joining the boycott. The
list of advertisers that say they won't buy ads on Facebook or
Instagram in July at a minimum now includes Levi Strauss & Co.,
Beam Suntory Inc., Hershey Co., Patagonia Inc., North Face, the
U.S. sales and marketing arm of Honda Motor Co., Eddie Bauer LLC
and Recreational Equipment Inc. Clorox Co. on Monday said it will
cease advertising with Facebook through December.
"We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community
safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and
update our policies, " a Facebook spokeswoman said Monday. "We've
opened ourselves up to a civil-rights audit, and we have banned 250
white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram."
Facebook finds nearly 90% of the hate speech on which it takes
action before users report it but will continue to work with
civil-rights groups and others to do more, she said.
While the ad industry waits to see how the confrontation will
play out, the boycotters have another question to answer: What is
their marketing strategy without Facebook?
The alternatives sometimes don't get enough attention because
Facebook advertising is considered a safe choice, according to an
ad buyer at a major advertising agency. "Putting your next dollar
into Facebook, you know it's going to work," the buyer said.
"Whereas putting that dollar someplace else, you might not know
it's gonna work."
Some of the marketers pulling back from Facebook are now going
to find out.
"We stand with the Black community and support those who are
fighting for stricter policies that stop racist, violent or hateful
content and misinformation from circulating on these platforms,"
the VF Corp. backpack brand JanSport said Friday as it joined the
boycott. "As such, we will shift the planned launch of our July
back-to-school campaign to YouTube and TikTok."
YouTube, part of Google, and video-sharing social networking
service TikTok, which is owned by Bytedance Ltd., are already part
of the JanSport campaign but will assume a larger role, a
Apparel brand North Face, also owned by VF, is likely to
increase ad spending with current partners such as Google and
Pinterest Inc., a spokeswoman said. But it is also exploring
opportunities in affiliate marketing, in which websites get
commissions for referring traffic to a brand, and targeting
consumers elsewhere around the web, she said.
Password manager Dashlane Inc. will spend more on sponsored
content, online display ads and social media platforms such as
Pinterest, said Joy Howard, chief marketing officer at the company.
It will also collaborate with other marketers to bring in new
customers through joint promotions, she said.
"There is a lot of interest in doing things in a different way,"
Ms. Howard said. "People are hungry to find alternatives."
Outdoor apparel company Eddie Bauer will redirect some money to
tools that it already uses, like the ads that show up when
consumers search Google or Amazon for terms such as "hiking
shorts," according to Damien Huang, president at the company.
Eddie Bauer also plans an updated test of advertising within
Gmail, something it tried previously, plus new territory for the
brand such as TikTok and Snap Inc.'s Snapchat.
Clothing and design brand Eileen Fisher Inc. said it would
increase spending on current tactics such as using Google Display
Network and Rakuten Inc., the Japanese online merchant, to attract
new customers and re-contact existing ones with online display ads,
for example. And it will lean more on marketing programs like the
one from RewardStyle Inc., which helps find influencers who might
promote brands to their followers.
But company executives are also exploring the use of streaming
TV services for later in the year, drawn in part by increased
viewing as lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic forced people
to stay home, said Jamie Habanek, director of brand marketing.
"It's a shift that we were already talking about and could
become more important if we decide that we have to move away from
Facebook and Instagram for a longer period of time," Ms. Habanek
Not every boycotter will reallocate its Facebook and Instagram
ad spending to other advertising and marketing channels, however:
REI, the outdoor retailer, said it will spend the money elsewhere
in its business instead.
Write to Nat Ives at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 29, 2020 18:13 ET (22:13 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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